Saturday, January 23, 2010

Activation of Binsey

It was a bright, if chilly morning, and so Olga and I decided to go for a short walk followed by a sauna and soak in the hot tub at Armathwaite Hall, where we are members of the health club. The target for the walk was Binsey, a minor hill on the northern edge of the Lake District. It is a pleasant, easy walk, with great views on a fine day. It is also both a Wainwrights On The Air (WOTA) and a Summits On The Air (SOTA) summit.

A quick call on 145.500 before our picnic lunch raised no-one. I did hear a G7 who was raising money for the lifeboat association but he didn't hear me.

After lunch I called again and was replied to by Keith, G0EMM in Workington, who was alerted to my call by his daughter (thanks Rebecca!) After a chat with Keith I was called by Steve, M0IGG on Walney Island. He was a strong 59 signal and I thought the island must be in the Solway which I could see from my summit location, so I was amazed to be told Walney Island is in Morecambe Bay off the south coast of Cumbria. The entire Lake District was between us, but I have had good signals from the south Lakes on Binsey before and can only assume that some kind of ducting occurs.

Whilst I was there Lynn, KJ4ERJ, author of the APRSISCE software sent me an APRS message. He had spotted my movements and realized I was off for a hike. The software performed very well, but I turned the phone off on the summit to save the battery and obviously didn't wait long enough to get a fix after turning it on again so it didn't track our descent.

I forgot to turn the phone off while it was in my jacket in the locker at Armathwaite Hall and returned to find a rather hot phone displaying some odd error messages that I couldn't get rid of and a low battery, so I turned it off completely until we got home.

It turns out I wasn't the only person out on the Lakeland fells with a radio today, however I missed the activity by M3WJZ/P and M3ZOO/P that was spotted on the WOTA website as I had switched the APRS WOTA alerts to a bulletin message which APRSISCE doesn't support yet.

Sadly I have been told by Steve Dimse who runs that I shouldn't be using his CGI script to send APRS messages from the WOTA server as "use of findU by machines is not permitted" and if I want to do that I should connect to the APRS network myself and send the messages. Unfortunately I have neither the technical knowledge nor, probably, the necessary permissions on the web server to write and run my own CGI script. If anyone can help me out with that I'd appreciate it. In the meantime I'm just hoping Steve doesn't notice the very occasional WOTA bulletin message because I think it's a very useful facility that could do a lot to encourage the use of APRS in this neck of the woods.
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